Ms Shandana Aurangzeb Durrani

“I have experienced for myself the power of education to enable women and their children to realise their full potential. It has made me a stronger woman, a better person and mother and this is why I’m so passionate about working for UNICEF.”

Ms Shandana Aurangzeb Durrani is a strong advocate for social justice and girls’ empowerment in her home country of Pakistan through her work in the development sector. 

Shandana was betrothed at the young age of 15 and married when she was still in high school. Despite a challenging and conservative family and cultural environment, her dedication and passion for education led her to complete her undergraduate degree and then a Master of Business Administration, graduating top of her class, while raising three young children. 

After becoming a part of a small NGO and doing volunteer work in urban slums of Karachi, Shandana realised that she needed to advance her knowledge and skills in development practice. She applied for and was offered a number of prestigious scholarships, but chose to come to UQ on an Australia Award to study a Master of Development Practice. 

After completing her studies at UQ, receiving Dean's Commendations for High Achievement in each semester, Shandana returned to Pakistan and took a job with UNICEF in time to support the field level humanitarian response to a series of large scale emergencies which shook the country between 2008 -2012 including the displacement crisis in 2009 and 2010 floods, which resulted in nearly 2,000 deaths, affecting 20 million people across Pakistan.

Her work across this devastating series of events saw her selected and trained for a key role with UNICEF’s Global Immediate Response Team and she has subsequently completed  emergency assignments in Africa to support large scale humanitarian programmes in response to  the drought situation in Horn of Africa, and drought and  protracted conflict situation in north east  Nigeria.

Shandana’s work for UNICEF has shed light on the plight of women and girls both in her country and Africa; their battles to access education and the risks they face from sexual abuse and assault. She has used her position to help and advocate for the most vulnerable children and women, and garnered support for victims of devastating natural disasters and human induced tragedies.

Shandana credits education with not only advancing her position, but helping to empower girls in her family and community including her daughter, who is now studying to become a doctor. 


International Alumnus of the Year


Master of Development Practice